Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET
A resupply rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Tuesday, and anyone with a computer, smartphone or virtual reality headset can experience it as if they were right on the launch pad.
That’s because there was a special 360-degree camera installed near the base of the Atlas V rocket en route to the International Space Station.
“The camera will stream video that you can manipulate,” Rick Glasby of member station WFIT reports. “You can rotate the image, in real time, in a full 360-degree panorama. The video will continue through countdown and launch and until the rocket is out of sight.”
NASA worked in coordination with Orbital ATK, which makes the Cygnus spacecraft that sits atop the Atlas V, and rocket maker United Launch Alliance to place “four fisheye-lens cameras on the pad, around 300 feet from the rocket,” the website Engadget explains. “Nearby, a computer protected by a blast-proof box will stitch images together in near-real time.”
What’s in the cargo? More than 7,600 pounds of science research, crew supplies and hardware for the space laboratory, according to NASA.
There are lots of ways to watch the launch — ULA has some tips here — but if you have a virtual reality headset, you can look around the launch pad as if you were standing on it. We can’t all be rocket scientists, but this might be as close as we’ll get.
The resupply mission is a public-private partnership between NASA and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. NASA awarded Orbital ATK and SpaceX commercial resupply services contracts, under which each company is to deliver at least 20 metric tons of cargo to the space station.